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Sociolingüística catalana

An approximation to the study of processes of linguistic change in non-prestigious geographical varieties: the Conca de Tremp, by Sílvia Romero Galera


The majority of morphological aspects are in regression: the increase of –ís in the present indicative of third conjugation inchoative verbs, in conjunction with the verbal increase –eix (llegisso/llegeixo), the lack of a final vowel in the conditional ending (faltarí/faltaria), the particle se before a question (pregunta-li se quant val) or the use of se with the conditional conjunction (se plou molt, no vindrem), the use of per a, in contraction through agglutination per + a = pra, with a value of finality (pra jo), the use of jo instead of mi as the verbal complement (No va fer res per jo), the use of molla as quantitative (no n’hi ha molla) and the use of cap to form a double negative (No ho sé cap).

(3) Characteristics of Lleidatà in the speech of the Conca de Tremp.

There are two important aspects from a phonetic point of view: the pronunciation /e/ of tonic ee before t, s, r, and /e / for final –a in adjectives and nouns: collit[e ], sol[e ]. Thus, we hear the pronunciation [e], alternating with [e], of the third person of the present indicative, the first and third persons of the imperfect indicative and the conditional indicative, which differs from the [a] of Pallarès and the [e]/[e] distinction in Lleidatà. The ALDC notes this distinction of –[e] in the first person singular / –[e] the third person singular in informants of the two towns surveyed in the Conca de Tremp. According to data of the corpus and that detected by Casanovas & Creus (1999) in younger speakers of the area of Lleidatà, this distinction could start to disappear in favour of [e]. This tendency is reproduced in the pronunciation of morphemes of unmarked gender such as –ista, although the distinction appears to be maintained in the case of –aire. We should also point out the maintenance of–u– in feminine possessives, characteristic of western speech, with the same vocalic timbre as Lleidatà [‘mewE], [‘tewE], [‘sewE].

(4) Lexical characteristics specific to the speech of the Conca de Tremp.

Quite simply, we would like to comment on the fact that the differences in inventory are, in the majority of cases, limited to phonetic variants, formal variants or semantic extensions.

As a whole, the speech of the Conca de Tremp reveals the general characteristics of north-western Catalan in its tonic vowel system and in articulatory contexts where Pallarès is characterised by a systematic opening to [e]. In the area of atonic vocalism, we should point out the pronunciation [e] of final –a in nouns and adjectives, the endings of the third person of the present indicative and of the first and third persons of the imperfect indicative and the conditional. The corpus includes cases of oscillation with [e] in the third person of the present indicative and, sporadically, pronunciations in [a], due to the influence of Pallarès. Other general phonetic characteristics of north-western Catalan are maintained, particularly those less marked, such as [a] in groups with initial e in syllables ending in a consonant, affrication of the voiceless prepalatal sibilant [tf] and pronunciation of the semivowel [j] before a prepalatal fricative. Other consonantal characteristics include the majority pronunciation of the –bl–,–gl– groups as approximants whilst at morphosyntactic level, we should mention the voicing of –k– in demonstratives, characteristic of Pallarès and Ribagorçà; and the maintenance of –w– in feminine possessives, characteristic of western speech. There is a greater tendency to substitute elements of nominal morphology (particularly those connoted as the etymological forms lo/los of the masculine definite article, full forms of pronouns in units or combinations), basically for forms coinciding with the standard language and/or central Catalan (for a more detailed description, see Romero, 2001: 55-77).

4. Processes of linguistic change and variation: an analysis of some representative cases

4.1. Linguistic variables and groups of explanatory factors

We have mentioned the importance of our bibliographical sources, preliminary studies and available sociological data on the speech community in determining the most significant linguistic and explanatory variables. The morphological features studied in terms of their geographical distribution in Catalan at the present time are:

The linguistic variable corresponding to demonstrative adjectives, in which general variants of proximity and remoteness (aquest, aquell) alternate with the voiced and spirantized variants (aguest, aguell), characterised by uncertain origin and a lack of presence in the written language. This is the most local feature, limited to the Ribagorçanopallarès area and the Conca de Tremp;

The linguistic variable corresponding to the masculine definite article, which analyses the occurrence of full (lo, los) and reinforced (el, els) variants of this element before words beginning with a consonant. It is currently used in the area of north-western Catalan.

The variable depending on the first person plural weak pronoun, observed in both proclitic and enclitic positions, alternating between the general variant (ens, -nos) and the analogical variant (mos). It is now found basically in the western area.

The linguistic variable corresponding to the singular weak personal pronouns in proclitic position deals with the occurrence of the full (me, te, se) and reinforced (em, et, es) variants. Nowadays, this characteristic is mainly circumscribed to north-western and Balearic areas.

The variable depending on possessive adjectives alternates between variants in –u– (meua, teua, seua) and –v– (meva, teva, seva) in the feminine forms. It is found generally, except in central Catalan.

The patrimonial variants of the features analysed were common to the whole of the linguistic domain, except for the case of demonstratives.

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